Deputy Governor Holds Meeting with Ayip Eku Oil Company and Akamkpa Host Community

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Calabar In a concerted effort to resolve the longstanding dispute between Ayib Eku Oil Palm Ltd and the five host communities in Akamkpa Local Government Area, the Deputy Governor of Cross River State, Rt. Hon. Peter Odey, recently convened a meeting in Calabar NEGROIDHAVEN can say.

Addressing representatives from the host communities – Okarara, Iku, Abung, Akor, and New Ndebiji – during the gathering held on Tuesday, August 29, Rt. Hon. Odey emphasized the need for a balanced resolution. He advised, “I suggest the company withhold the funds for now. Let the communities come together, agree on a sharing formula, and formalize it through a signed agreement. This way, if any party breaches the terms, legal actions can be taken.”

The Deputy Governor instructed the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Crop & Irrigation Development to arrange a meeting between the host community representatives. Their aim will be to mutually determine an equitable and acceptable distribution plan for the funds received from the company. Rt. Hon. Odey urged these representatives to reach an agreement and return with a signed document from all stakeholders. He emphasized that both the company and the community should ultimately find satisfaction, given that a conducive environment for profit-making should be maintained for a company contributing significantly to both government revenue and community welfare.

Mr. John Gaul Lebo, the Chairman of the Board of Ayib Eku Palm Oil Ltd, expressed appreciation for the proactive approach of the Prince Otu-Led administration. This approach has brought an end to a decade-long dispute between the company and the host communities. Lebo, accompanied by the Company’s Managing Director and other key management personnel, revealed that the company had prepared bank drafts totaling N108,000,000 for the host communities. He hoped that this resolution would allow the company to progress and finally realize profits after years of contention, thereby allowing the community to focus on more substantial developmental projects like road and school construction.

During the meeting, concerns were raised by the New Ndebiji community about the fair distribution of funds received from the company. Lebo clarified that funds would be allocated to communities based on their landholding areas, referring to a government-provided map illustrating geographical boundaries. He encouraged communities to discuss and clarify these boundaries if different from the map.

The Ayip Eku Estate Landlords Joint Council conveyed appreciation to the Government for appointing two community members to cabinet positions in the state. They also called for government intervention to ensure the company fulfills its intended purpose. The group emphasized the ongoing need for infrastructural development and urged the company to study the Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives of other agro-allied companies to enhance their own model.